Croydon Council has announced the lowest council tax rise in the borough’s history - but will cut spending by more than £17m to fund it.

The 0.8 per cent rise means residents in a Band D property will pay £1459.93 a year from April, £12.22 more than for the last financial year.

Council Leader Mike Fisher said council tax could have been slashed but for a £5m gap in central Government funding for asylum seekers, housing benefits and concessionary travel fares.

Departments were told to cut spending by 4 per cent through ‘efficiency savings’ but managed to shave off an average of more than 6 per cent to drop their budgets by £15.9m in addition to £1.7m of actual cuts.

The council will spend almost £150m on capital expenditure projects as part of a changing emphasis from short term fixes to long term solutions.

This includes £10m set aside for modernising the dilapidated Fairfield Halls, £30m on large scale repairs of highways and £22m to cope with the surge in demand for primary school places.

Major projects planned include the £11m Waddon leisure centre regeneration and £27m building and refurbishing council houses.

Coun Fisher said the aim was to produce a sustainable budget rather than push to achieve a council tax freeze, which he said would have been a “gimmick”.

He said: ”With financial stability in place we are not only setting the lowest council tax rise in Croydon’s history but also managing a considerable investment of nearly £150m to overturn the long neglect of the borough’s infrastructure.

“These are the fruits of prudence and a relentless efficiency drive in the face of the post recession squeeze on public spending.”

Council efficiency savings to be made in 2010/11 Adult services and housing = £5.15m Children, young people and learners = £3.52m Community Services = £2.93 Planning, Regeneration and conservation = £0.27m Central Departments = £4.06m